Analysing Change

On the EU’s Belarus border, security and fundamental rights collide

13 September 2021

In her commentary for Social Europe Bucerius fellow Weronika Grzebalska argues that Lukashenka’s thrashing around in Eastern Europe forces progressives to offer a positive alternative on security.

"Designing a left-wing national-security agenda seems futile, given the field is dominated by the right. Yet without the left rising to this challenge, we cannot hope for a national-security policy balanced by fundamental rights. So what could such an agenda for eastern Europe look like?"


Elites and Institutions in the Russian Thermidor

Regime Instrumentalism, Entrepreneurial Signaling, and Inherent Illiberalism

12 July 2021

Bucerius Fellow Julian G. Waller examines illiberal dynamics on different levels of Russian politics and society. He draws a broader framework to understand illiberalism, its diverse sources and appearances.


Shifting the wall further east

Kundera’s tragedy of ‘central Europe’ three decades later 

19 May 2021

Advisory Board Member Mykola Riabchuk discusses the “philosophic geography” of Eastern and Central Europe.


Analysing Change

19 November 2020

Bucerius Fellow Adam Baczko and Gilles Dorronsoro on the dangers of subcontracting research and remote methodologies in the context of Covid-19: “The Ethical, Epistemological, and Conceptual Need to Resume Fieldwork”

Analysing Change

18 November 2020

Bucerius Fellow 
Anne Wolf about the counterrevolution in Tunisia and the rise of Abir Moussi in the POMED Snapshot, November 2020:

New Research Projects on Russia and Post-Soviet Countries

12 November 2020

The workshop at the German Historical Institute in Moscow was planned for April 2020. Because of the pandemic and travel restrictions the workshop takes place digitally from 9 till 11 November 2020. more

Analysing Change

01 November 2020

Advisory Board Member 
Isabelle Werenfels comments on Africa policies of Maghreb states: “Maghrebi Rivalries Over Sub-Saharan Africa”

Workshop in Berlin

24 May 2018

12 May 2018
in cooperation with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) more

Fieldwork Workshop in Berlin

Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

20 April 2017

Field Trip to Kyiv

Ukraine 2016 - Challenges for the State, Economy and Society


Think Lab in New York City

Booming Populism – On the Practice and Language of Political Polarization


3rd Students Conference

April 2017 in Berlin


4th Students Conference

23 - 27 May 2018 in Berlin


New Research Projects with Focus on Ukraine

Research Workshop 13 - 16 June 2018 in Lviv/Ukraine


Analysing change

Bucerius Fellow Adam Baczko and his co-authors about the civil war in Syria:

“In the end, polarization and political fragmentation, rather than a product of the Syrian society, reflect the influence of external actors. International and transnational dynamics affected the insurgency’s decentralization even more because of its disorganization. (…) In Syria, as in other contexts of increased political and military competition (Afghanistan, Iraq, Angola, or the Democratic Republic of Congo), the ability to centralize, to accumulate, and to use the resources strategically is crucial to survival.”

Baczko, A., Dorronsoro, G., & Quesnay, A. (2018). Civil War in Syria. In Civil War in Syria: Mobilization and Competing Social Orders (Problems of International Politics, p. I). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.39.

>> English edition

>> French edition

>> Turkish edition


Safer Field Research in the Social Sciences

A Guide to Human and Digital Security in Hostile Environments

Bucerius Fellow Ilyas Saliba and his co-authors published a guide for a safer fieldwork

How did the book come about?

Ilyas Saliba: Four years ago on fieldwork mission for my PhD research in Cairo I was searching for resources and best practices on safe fieldwork under the impression of the gruesome murder of our colleague Giulio Regeni in Egypt. However, I was surprised to find very little to nothing in the social science literature on this issue. Many discussions and conversations over the following years with Kevin Köhler, Jannis Grimm, Ellen Lust, Isabell Schierenbeck and many more led to this publication.

Who is this book for?

Ilyas Saliba: Scholars planning to undertake fieldwork themselves, their supervisors & those teaching on fieldwork methods. Although geared towards a social science crowd much of the advice in the book is also useful for other disciplines, journalists or NGO staff.

What can I expect from the book?

Ilyas Saliba: After the introduction (1) the book is structured along the three phases of fieldwork:
2) before the field with Sylvain Lefebvre, Daniel T.R. Masterson & Francesco Strazzari
3) in the field with, Alessandra Russ, Emma Beals & Osama Diab
4) after the field with Mara Revkin, Sarah E. Parkinson & Florian Kohstall
Followed by 2 chapters on:  5) digital security and data protection (6) with Morana Miljanovic, Vasillis Ververes & Kersti Ruth Wissenbach

It concludes discussing the role of universities & funders in fieldwork safety (7).

From the introduction:

We need a change of perspective. Not all dangerous research is necessary, or worthwhile; research is not valuable just because the risks are high. There is no shame in valuing your own or your team’s physical and mental well-being over ‘sexy’ research. Being a maverick and engaging in research despite harsh realities should never be a mark of success. On the other hand, field research is almost never risk-free. Given the unpredictable nature of some of the risks we will discuss in this book, striving for completely safe field research risks imposing too many restrictions on what researchers can do. By contrast, a fundamental conviction motivating this volume is that safer research is possible. Responsible researchers should thus assess when fieldwork is too risky, understand when the benefits do outweigh the costs, and take all measures to keep everyone involved as safe as possible. We advocate an approach of risk management as a middle way which avoids both an overly restrictive approach or the risk-embracing attitude encouraged by a resilience perspective.


Field Trip to Tunis

Tunisia 2018 - Challenges for the State, Economy and Society

16 to 22 September 2018

The field trip seeks to strengthen the collaborative aspect of “Trajectories of Change”. We want to promote both empirical research based on intensive fieldwork and theoretical reflection. Comparative inputs to the exploration of the Tunisian transformation in the field are highly welcomed. 


Workshop in Berlin

9 May 2019, Forum Transregionale Studien

Knowledge, Politics and Publics: Conversations on the Role of the Academic, the Intellectual and the Writer in Times of Change more

5th Students Conference

8 - 12 May 2019 in Berlin


MENA Workshop

21 - 22 November 2019

In cooperation with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin, we organize the next “Trajectories of Change” workshop dealing with transformation processes in the Middle East and North Africa. more

Analysing Change

Bucerius Fellow Ilyas Saliba and his co-authors about Academic Freedom Index:

“Academic freedom is fundamental to scientific progress, the pursuit of knowledge, research collaboration, and quality higher education. Plenty of universities and states have committed to safeguarding academic freedom, yet it remains under attack in many places. As we are publishing this report, the global community is racing to respond to the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV‑2. Academics, both inside and outside of universities and in an extraordinarily broad range of disciplines, are playing a vital role in addressing the epidemiological, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of the response to the crisis, as they will in the eventual recovery and restoration of essential functions and services.“ more

A golden opportunity for Middle East autocrats?

Bucerius Fellow Tobias Zumbrägel and his co-author Thomas Demmelhuber analyse the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Middle East:

“In the Middle East and North Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding across a political and social map that has been undergoing a process of reorganisation since the start of the Arab uprisings. Although different circumstances prevail in the various countries – ranging from the wealthy nations on the Arabian Peninsula to nation-states torn apart by civil wars – this pandemic will confront the region with huge and lasting challenges, producing tectonic changes as a result. Change relevant to the region may be observed on three levels: (1) the international level, with China as the "medical gravity centre"; (2) the regional level, with countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) continuing to strive for regional hegemony; and (3) the national level, with the fight against COVID-19 offering some autocrats new leverage in their ongoing efforts to consolidate their power.”


Russia’s disinformation campaigns are targeting African Americans

Bucerius Fellow Žilvinas Švedkauskas and his colleagues published an article in the Washington Post:

“During this summer’s historic Black Lives Matter protests across the United States, social media platforms have been rife with disinformation. That’s not a coincidence. Since 2016, Russian disinformation campaigns have focused particularly on race and social issues related to African Americans, exploiting the fact that race remains a highly volatile area in U.S. politics." 


"Institutional Constraints and Possibilities in (semi)Revolutionary Belarus"

Ph.D. Bucerius Fellow Julian G. Waller

"How do elections, the parliament, and other relevant political institutions matter in the crisis today – especially when what seems to be most salient is the interaction of peaceful street protests with the violent threat of security service repression?" more


Bucerius Fellow Emma Rimpiläinen reflects in her article “The time of displaceme

“To the majority of former Donbas residents I met during my fieldwork in Ukraine and Russia from 2018 to 2019, the Donbas war had been wholly unthinkable until 2014, because it was assumed that wars simply do not happen in “civilised countries.” That is, wars should happen somewhere else and some other time, not here, to us, in a civilised country in the 21st century. This is probably a recognisable attitude to nearly anyone not living in a war zone: we believe that war and death are something that happened in the past or, in the current moment, something that happens to other, less contemporary people, somewhere else.” more

The Politics of State Celebrations in Belarus

Bucerius Fellow Maryia Rohava studies ideological power relations between the st

“The symbolic production of WWII commemorations has been the recipient of one of the Belarusian government's most dedicated streams of public spending since the start of Aliaksandr Lukashenka's presidency over 25 years ago.1 Lukashenka regularly confirms financial support for the organisation of military parades. (…) However, not all Belarusians share the President's sentiment about the need for military parades. Every year, online petitions to stop military parades are circulated, arguing that they disturbed the everyday life of city residents, damaged roads and created dangerous traffic situations. Two dramatic events have also contributed to public concerns. On 3 July 2008, more than 40 people were injured when a bomb exploded during the Independence Day concert..." more

Analysing Change

"What Does Belarus Teach Us? East European Revolutions from Warsaw and Prague to

Member of the Advisory Board Mykola Riabchuk about revolutions in Eastern Europe in a long durée analysis: See the presentation at the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University here: more

Analysing Change

Bucerius Fellow Stanislav Budnitsky about “Russia’s great power imaginary and pu

“Over the past two decades, Russia has championed the primacy of national governments in managing the global internet. Scholars attribute Russia’s global internet governance philosophy and practices predominantly to its increasingly authoritarian and illiberal regime under President Vladimir Putin. This article, by contrast, explores how Russian ruling elites’ view of Russia as an immutable great power has directed the subsequent Russian governments’ pursuit of a state-based multipolar digital order.” more